There’s a great newspaper comic strip called “Brewster Rockit Space Guy”. They’ve been doing a sendup of “King Kong”, and their satire concluded with the death of their giant ape. There he is, dead on the ground, and Brewster says something like, “The airplanes got him.” Another character, Dr. Mel, says, “No, it was beauty who killed the beast”. And Brewster says, “No, I think it was the airplanes.”
I’m with Brewster.
I don’t remember much about the original “King Kong” except its indelible association with the first-ever Star Trek/SF convention I attended: Equicon 1975, in San Diego. I was so amazingly jazzed just to be there, and to see people like George Takei (wearing a samurai suit!) and Majel Barrett, and making instant new friends (one of whom I still know, who is, gulp, now ready to retire). I was buying Star Trek photos and Star Trek fanzines (both gen and X-rated), and absorbing the nonstop programming. I wasn’t sleeping and I wasn’t eating, and somewhere during all of this I saw the original, uncut “King Kong” at around 3 am in the morning. I remember being surprised by how much violence there was in a movie of that era. That entire weekend still has the quality of a dream.
So, the new version of “King Kong”. Adrian Brody is incredibly appealing, the re-creation of 1930s era New York gorgeous, the homage to the original perfect in every detail. I’ve never seen Jack Black in anything, but damn, he was great at conveying self-obsessed single-mindedness. Loved the in-jokes, particularly the one about “Fay” not being available for the movie because she’s doing some other picture at RKO.
I could done without the long squicky Big Bug sequence. That said, I’m not all that bothered by long squicky Big Bug sequences anymore; guess I’ve seen one too many of them. So, while one bug was chewing on one character’s head, I was thinking, yeah, yeah, obligatory grossout scene, and then my mind started wandering to my plans after the movie. Once the Big Bugs were off the screen, I started concentrating on the movie again.
(BTW, why are horror movie bugs always slimy? When I was 7 years old I found a 6” centipede in my bed. There was a tarantula living in a hole not 12 feet from our back door, and we found the occasional scorpion in our garage. Gross and disgusting as all these critters were, none of them were slimy.)
I must admit I had an odd moment when the biplanes started buzzing around the Empire State Building. Airplanes. Attacking the tallest building in NYC. I shoved that image right out of my head, but something was nagging at me. So today via google and wikipedia I dug out that other memory.
1976. That *ghastly* “King Kong” remake starring Jessica Lange. That movie poster, with the giant gorilla, standing on top of both buildings of the World Trade Center, fighting off much bigger airplanes than the biplanes featured in the original. Here’s the poster:
It’s weird not to be able to identify what I feel about this. After all, this is a giant ape movie. Not something about 9/11.
Many horror/SF movies, of course, are metaphors for more real life terrors. Take radiation-born Godzilla, trampling Tokyo flat in dozens of movies, a big rubber-suited standin for the atomic bomb.
But I just can’t do an after-the-fact metaphor with Kong and the tower(s). This is just my gut reaction to seeing airplanes and NYC towers in the same frame. It’s more than obvious there could be no intended reference at all.
After poking and trying to clarify my feelings about this, I gave up. It’s far better that I spend these thoughts on the obvious phallic symbolism of the Empire State Building. (Wasn’t the Empire State Building brand new when the original was made? The absolute art deco epitome of the modern era?)
Wasn’t it cute the way Kong treats Darrow like a pet at the beginning? And didn’t they have fun with those soulful scenes of the two of them watching the sunset together? The reviewers keep mentioning the term “doomed romance”. But hey… logistical impossibility! Let’s get back to the Stockholm Syndrome…
Oh, and IMHO, Darrow should have been dead 20 times over because of the way she gets tossed around in the movie. At the very least, she should have been bruised and covered in mud from head to toe. Instead, there she is, golden hair shining, movie makeup absolutely perfect, the embodiment of the old style screen goddess…
Done rambling now…